Amnesty International called on China to demonstrate the “safety” of Peng Shuai and for allegations of sexual abuse to be investigated

Peng Shuai playing the Australian Open at Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia in 2019 REUTERS / Adnan Abidi / File Photo / File Photo (Adnan Abidi /)

The NGO International Amnesty (AI) on Thursday asked the Chinese authorities to prove the “security” and “whereabouts” of the tennis player Peng shuai, that two weeks ago he accused the deputy prime minister Chinese retired Zhang Gaoli for forcing her to have sex, while it has demanded that the complaints made be investigated.

AI researcher on China Doriane Lau has indicated that the Chinese Government “has systematically silenced the movement ‘Me too‘ in the country”. In this context, and “given that it also has a zero tolerance approach to criticism, it is extremely disturbing that Peng Shuai appears to be missing after having accused a former senior government official of sexual assaultl ”, he added.

Early on Thursday, the Chinese regime tried to silence the voices calling for Peng Shuai’s safety and well-being through the publication of an email allegedly written by Peng herself in which she says she was safe and sound and that the allegations of sexual violence were not true. In this, too, he asked the leaders of the Women’s Tennis Association to stop meddling in the matter.

Peng Shuai emailed Steve Simon SF tweet
The email that Peng Shuai allegedly sent to the Women’s Tennis Association in which she says that she is safe and sound and that the accusations she made were not true. He also asks the association not to meddle in affairs. Credit: Twitter @CGTNOfficial

Hours later the Women’s Tennis Association responded by suggesting what everyone thought: that the email was a fraud. “I find it hard to believe that Peng Shuai actually wrote the email we received or believes what is attributed to him“, said Steve Simon, executive director of the association.

For his part, Lau has also expressed himself about the alleged email and stated that “Peng’s alleged statement recently that ‘everything is fine’ should not be accepted as authentic, as Chinese state media has a history of extracting statements from people under duress, or simply making them up.”. “These concerns will not fade unless Peng’s safety and whereabouts are confirmed.”He insisted.

In Lau’s view, the Peng case “highlights the treatment faced by women who survive sexual abuse in China“, Of which he has said that his complaints are”systematically ignored and often attacked for speaking out”. The Peng case is the first such accusation against someone in the highest echelons of power in China, the Politburo Standing Committee, and has highlighted the enormous capacity of the country to suppress all criticism, including that of women who have brought accusations of sexual violence.

Steve Simon, executive director of the WTA, questioned the authenticity of Peng Shuai's message shown by the media in China (Photo: REUTERS)
Steve Simon, executive director of the WTA, questioned the authenticity of Peng Shuai’s message shown by the media in China (Photo: REUTERS) (WTA website /)

On November 2, in a post on the Chinese social media website Weibo, Peng Shuai accused retired Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of forcing her to have sex. Zhang Gaoli was deputy prime minister of the country between 2013 and 2018, and is considered an ally of the president Xi Jinping. The debate over the allegations was quickly censored on Chinese social media and the original post – which read “you took me to your house and forced me to have sex with you”- is no longer visible online.

What has made Ms. Peng’s case internationally known is her celebrity status in her country. What’s more, as he rose through the ranks of professional tennis, the Chinese government considered her a model athlete. “She is like a breeze in women’s tennis,” wrote in 2013 the People’s Daily, the main newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party. “She will always be our Chinese princess,” the note added.

The international scandal over Peng’s indictment has erupted just weeks after the start of the Winter Olympics in BeijingThe attempts to silence the voices and calm the waters have to do with the Chinese government’s intention to maintain its international image while calls for a diplomatic and commercial boycott of the Games proliferate.

Zhang gaoli
Former Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli is accused of forcing Peng Shuai to have non-consensual sex with him. In the photo, during a summit in Beijing (AP) (Mark Schiefelbein /)

In this sense, Human Rights Watch released a report last week criticizing the main sponsors of the Olympics for not speaking out publicly on issues related to human rights and other abuses.

For his part, the head of the Women’s Tennis Association has demanded that the accusations of Peng and Threatened with the withdrawal of the organization and the cessation of commercial activities in the country if “appropriate results” are not obtained. Following this line, the body that regulates men’s tennis, the ATP, also issued a statement saying it was “deeply concerned by the uncertainty surrounding the immediate safety and whereabouts” of Ms Peng.

The Chinese dictatorship has a long history in its favor when it comes to getting away with complaints against it, even when they acquire international relevance – as is the terrible case of human rights violations and genocide against the Uyghurs. in the Xinjiang region. However, with the relevance that this case acquired in the international press and with the Olympic Games just around the corner, the hope persists that the Chinese government will release Peng Shuai from his place of confinement and seek to clarify, at least in some point, what happened.


The shameful message of a spokesman for the Chinese regime to refer to the violation of Peng Shuai

The WTA has warned that it will leave China if the violation of Peng Shuai is not clarified and calls for a boycott of the Winter Games grow.